“Yes, but you didn’t need it,” said Maud; “one sees what one needs, I think. And I want to add something, dearest, which you must believe. I don’t want to revert to this, or to speak of it again—I don’t mean to dwell upon it; it is just enough for me. One mustn’t press these things too closely, nor want other people to share them or believe them. That is the mistake one makes, that one thinks that other people ought to find one’s own feelings and fancies and experiences as real as one finds them oneself. I don’t even want to know what you think about it—I don’t want you to say you believe in it, or to think about it at all. I couldn’t help telling you about it, because it seems as real to me as anything that ever happened in my life; but I don’t want you to have to pretend, or to accept it in order to please me. It is just my own experience; I was ill, unconscious, delirious, anything you please; but it is just a blessed fact for me, for all that, a gift from God. Do you really trust me when I say this, dearest? I don’t claim a word from you about it, but it will make all the difference to me. I can go on now. I don’t want to die, I don’t want to follow—I only want you to feel, or to learn to feel, that the child is a real child, our very own, as much a part of our family as Jack or Cousin Anne; and I don’t even want you to say that. I want all to be as before; the only difference is that I now don’t feel as if I was choosing. It isn’t a case of leaving him or leaving you. I have you both—and I think you wanted me most; and I haven’t a wish or a desire in my heart but to be with you.”
“Yes, dearest,” said Howard, “I understand. It is perfect to be trusted so. I won’t say anything now about it. I could not say anything. But you have put something into my heart which will spring up and blossom. Just now there isn’t room for anything in my mind but the fact that you are given back to me; that’s all I can hold; but it won’t be all. I am glad you told me this, and utterly thankful that it is so. That you should be here, given back to me, that must be enough now. I can’t count up my gains; but if you had come back, leaving your heart elsewhere, how could I have borne that?”
THE POWER OF LOVE
It was a few days later that Howard found himself sitting alone one evening after dinner, with his aunt.
“There is something that I want to talk to you about,” he said. “No doubt Maud has told you all about her strange experience? She has described it to me, and I don’t know what to say or think. She was wonderfully fine about it. She said she would not mention it again, and she did not desire me to talk about it—or even believe it! And I don’t know what to do. It isn’t the sort of thing that I believe in, though I think it beautiful, just because it was Maud who felt it. But I can’t say what I really believe about it, without seeming unsympathetic and even rough; and yet I don’t like there being anything which means so much to her, which doesn’t mean much to me.”